Toward a behavioral analysis of attentiveness as a style of communication
tJ Attentiveness, a variable of communication, primarily serves a stylistic function in the communicative process by providing behavioral evidence that an individual is actively involved in message reception. Past research suggests that while both verbal and nonverbal behaviors signal attentiveness, nonverbal cues are more closely associated with this construct. Among the many nonverbal behaviors of individuals in interactions, postural positions have been deemed highly indicative of 2
... ness. At present however, most of the empirical evidence attesting to this notion has been established through the use of selfreport measures. As a result of the felt need by this author to improve upon the methdology used in substantiating the construct of attentiveness, this investigation was conducted in order to apply a multiplicity of methods to testing this relatively new construct. This research is believed to be significant as it adds to the existing knowledge on the communication process in general and assists in theory-building a construct to which considerable attention of late has been given by communication theorists. In order to substantiate or disprove the claim that attentiveness is strongly related to postural activity, the author utilized an external variable approach to investigating this phenomenon. That qualitative data might be derived to validate or invalidate the research hypotheses, an experiment was executed whereby videotaped interaction was correlated with self-reports, other reports, and independent observer reports. The actual experiment consisted of: (1) development of mutually exclusive and exhaustive coding categories, (2) recruitment and training of coders to assist in data collection, (3) compilation of three attentiveness measures, (4) videotaping of subjects, (5) implementation of a pilot study, (6) data analysis, assessment of interrater reliability, and experiment refinement, and (7) administration and subsequent analysis of data from the final study. Thirteen scoring categories were used to detail the postural activity of the 62 videotaped subjects. Eight coders were trained to discern the postural positions and code approximately 20 minutes of dyadic interaction. The derived data was compared with three attentiveness measures My sincere appreciation and acknowledgement is extended to all those individuals who were indispensible in the execution of this study. Special thanks is extended to my thesis committee. Primarily, to Dr. Theodore Grove, my committee chairman and graduate advisor for his empirical expertise, for his emphasis on "doing it over," and for his sacrificing more than one Friday afternoon for the cause. Dr. Robert Vogelsang is thanked for his availability and encouragement throughout my course work and for his part in helping me set up the experiment. Mr. John McKenna is noted for teaching the first course I ever took in nonverbal communication, as is Dr. Roger Jennings for introducing me to coding categories, interrater reliability, and Cohen's Kappa. I am amazed at the number of people who assisted me in carrying out this study. I appreciate the help of the departmental secretary, Pat Hamilton, for her advice on policy matters in running the experiment and setting up the coding center as well as her willingness to be interrupted on numerous occasions for the key to room 24. Several individuals are thanked for their help in recruiting the 68 subjects that were involved. In particular, I acknowledge Betsy Crist for gathering together fourteen people one Saturday afternoon for filming, Doris Werkman for promoting this study in her classes, and Noury Al-Khaledy for his salesmanship in the lunchroom.